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Snow days should make all appreciate teachers

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Patsy Pridgen

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By Patsy Pridgen
Telegram Columnist

Sunday, January 28, 2018

If there’s anyone out there who thinks teachers are adequately paid, then that person hasn’t been stuck in the house this snowy January with a restless child (or children) whose school day has been canceled due to inclement weather.

I’m only the grandmother here, but I’ve had a dose of trying to keep rambunctious children entertained during the time they should be reading, writing and doing arithmetic. And I’m here to tell you, it ain’t easy. Especially if the snow vacation stretches into two or three days, as it has this January.

My grandchildren enjoyed sliding down the hill in front of my house for about 15 minutes, just long enough to get wet and cold. They soon learned that when sledding, what goes down must come up. Zipping down the hill was great; trudging back up was not. “Grandma, can’t you pull us?” they asked.

For the few hours they visited while their parents tried to squeeze in work, I took out supplies for baking and crafts, the usual pastimes. But there are only so many days a kid can cook cupcakes and build houses out of Popsicle sticks. What’s entertaining for an afternoon, after-school visit got old when children were out of school all day. I was almost as happy as their parents when the little darlings could go back to their normal routine.

With two sets of grandparents in town, these kids and their parents were luckier than many. When school is canceled due to weather conditions, lots of working moms and dads have to do some fast juggling. I’ve heard stories of parents who took turns going to work or taking a child with them to the office when that mandatory child care called school is out.

Not that I’m saying our schools are only a giant daycare. In fact, nothing makes me madder than the occasional critical remark, usually from some buffoon who’s never taught a day, that teachers are overpaid babysitters. Let’s think about this: if an educator were paid a babysitter rate of say, $10 an hour per child, then a class of 20 (small in most schools) would net said educator $200 per hour, or roughly $1,200 per day, $6,000 per week, $24,000 a month.

That’s an annual salary of $288,000. I don’t know of a single classroom teacher making anywhere close to that, especially in North Carolina. Maybe a school superintendent in an affluent district. Maybe my self-employed plumber, who charges $90 an hour.

Remember, too, that teachers aren’t just maintaining law and order, they’re teaching. They’re occupying our children in meaningful activities, engaging them, making them into the people who one day will run our country and pay our Social Security.

So if inclement weather doesn’t make a person appreciate how much teachers do for so little financial reward, then I hope this curmudgeon is homebound one long, snowy day with 20 bored children. He’ll be praying for school to re-open.

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